As the 4th major storm this season hits Washington, DC I received an email (thankfully I still have power) from the National Kidney Foundation calling for drivers of 4x4s to help transport dialysis patients. Six thousand patients need dialysis in the DC area alone. Possessing a small vehicle woefully unsuited for the task I could not help directly, but it made me think about what these crises mean for patients who rely on hospital-based services, or simply electricity and heat to be able to manage their conditions.
What can patients do to ensure that they have access to care during emergencies?
- Have extra medication on hand. You may not be able to get that refill by mail order or even from the pharmacy across the street.
- Have your own backup plan. Contact a neighbor, family member, or work with your hospital social worker to proactively identify a volunteer to check on you, drive you for care, or provide a warm place to stay overnight and plug in your equipment.
- Ask your doctor or healthcare team if home dialysis or temporary home-based care is appropriate for you so you don’t have to leave your house in unsafe circumstances. Do your family members know how to administer your shots or IVs? Get them trained!
Those of us with chronic conditions are accustomed to making plans when we travel. I now realize that we need to be as diligent when we are at home.